Note: More specific details about outreach services offered and accepted can be found at Royal Brougham encampment cleanup — the day after.
Trash, wooden pallets, needles and abandoned tents made an inviting, comfortable home for nests of rats living at the Royal Brougham encampment. But, it wasn’t a safe home for the residents who had lived there. On March 7, the City closed the encampment.“This is about the worst I’ve seen in Seattle,” said Darrell Rodgers of Seattle/King County Public Health, who oversees staff in the environmental health services and has visited a number of both sanctioned and unsanctioned camps throughout the county. “It’s inhumane to allow people to live here.”
There were 19 social service providers right outside the encampment, waiting to offer individualized services to the 37 residents remaining here on March 7. United Gospel Mission staff greeted some of the campers, as they have on their outreach visits here for the last several months, while REACH, Salvation Army, and Healthcare for the
Homeless offered such support as shelter beds, medical checks, and even entrance into treatment services for addiction. The City’s Navigation Team, which includes specially trained SPD officers and REACH case workers, have also been on scene offering similar services since the City first alerted residents on Feb. 24 of the coming closure.
Outreach follows the person-centered approach outlined in Pathways Home, the city’s overarching strategy for addressing homelessness. This means that each person identified what would help them, and the outreach workers assisted in coordinating the services. For some, it meant transportation to shelter where they could get a shower, and some hot food. For others, it was storing their belongings with the City or Salvation Army until they have an address, and for others it was needed cat food or beds for their pets.
Additionally, about 35 staff from the City’s Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Human Services, Parks, Transportation, Seattle Public Utilities and the Seattle Fire Department were adding support to the cleanup in the form of field coordination, establishing the perimeter and traffic control, collection and transportation of belongings, stand-by medical support and more. FAS staff went through the camp first, and hand-picked anything that had been identified by campers as needing storage, and also salvaged anything left behind, such as identification cards or passports, sleeping bags or clothing, that someone might want later. “We found a pair of shoes that were in good condition, just in case someone asks about them,” said Chris Potter, Director of Operations for FAS. Items contaminated by soil, mold or other hazards were not stored.
City staff offered to store belongings for those on site during advance outreach and the day of the cleanup. On the day of the cleanup, staff collect, inventory, photograph and store personal belongings whether or not the individual is present, unless the items are clearly refuse, damaged, contaminated, hazardous or evidence of a crime. Information on how to retrieve items from storage is handed to campers (if on site) and posted at the site, should they return. Items are stored for at least 60 days.
The clean up at the Royal Brougham site is expected to last three days. The City will actively monitor and mitigate potential impacts on surrounding areas, including the East Duwamish Greenbelt, SODO and the International District, over the next several months.